The Presence of A Master
It is an important question, but first I think it is important to mention that many followers of Perfect Masters are also avid practitioners of religion. One does not necessarily preclude the other, but one is not dependent on the other either. As Meher Baba said,
“I am equally approachable to one and all, big and small,
To saints who rise and sinners who fall,
Through all the various paths that give the divine call.
I am approachable alike to saint whom I adore
And to sinner whom I am for,
And equally through Sufism, Vedantism, Christianity,
Or Zoroastrianism and Buddhism and other isms
Of any kind and also directly through no medium of 'isms' at all.”
So, returning to the question, “What is so different…” I would say it is the experience of the presence and the atmosphere that surrounds Perfection. And I make this statement based on my own personal experience of having visited the Meher Spiritual Center — Meher Baba’s home in the West — in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Meher Baba’s tomb and Pilgrimage Center in India, and his homes at Meherazad and Pune, India. Additionally, I have been to the ashram of Upasani Maharaj, the tomb Sai Baba of Shirdi, and the tomb of Zar Zari Zar Baksh in Khuldabad, India.
Each of these places is unique; each has its own special atmosphere. What is an atmosphere? An atmosphere emanates from the presence of a Master. It is like a Master’s perfume mixed with the scent of devotion and practices of his followers. What is the presence of a Master? The presence is the Master himself — it is the unique individualized expression of His God-hood.
It is not possible for the presence of a Master to not emanate an atmosphere; wherever there is divine presence, there also is its atmosphere, and this atmosphere can linger for some time after the presence is gone—the scent of a woman’s perfume can linger in a room after she’s left it. It can linger for some time, but not forever.
When a Perfect Master drops his body; his link with creation is severed — forever. Perfect Masters do not come back — they do not reincarnate. So, once the Perfect Master drops his body, his presence disappears, but his atmosphere remains. People go on pilgrimages to the tombs of Masters and imbibe the atmosphere that resides there and are inspired in their efforts and longings for God.
It is different situation with regard to the Avatar — at least for a certain period of time after the Avatar drops His body. Meher Baba stated quite clearly, that after the dropping of His body, and before His eventual return in another form, He would be present and accessible for one-hundred years, i.e. 1969 -2069.
And that is the difference between visiting His “places” and those of the Perfect Masters. In the former there is both the presence and the atmosphere, while in the latter there is only the atmosphere. The Avataric presence is tangible and unmistakable. Once it is experienced it is unforgettable and distinct from anything else.
I experience that presence as Divine Love personified, totally personal and, at the same time, universal. That presence is lucid and compassionate, all-knowing, and un-conditional. And that is why I return to His places again and again, physically, and also in my mind and heart. For once one has experienced His presence physically and tangibly, then one is able to imbibe that presence whenever and wherever they wish.
Spiritual books and teachings are good, sincerely following the tenets of one’s religion is good, yoga and spiritual practices are good, pilgrimages to holy sites are good, but if you have the opportunity to be in the living presence of a Perfect Master or the Avatar, seize it, for the benefit and the bliss of that experience is unmatched by anything else on earth or in heaven.